Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Listen To That Inner Knitting Voice

I need to take my own advice!

The last time you saw my Hitchhiker, it looked like this:
I knew it was awful. I knew it. But I didn't want to "waste" all that knitting time, so I told myself that it would look fine when it was twisted around my neck. Still, a little voice in the back of my mind told me that I was lying.

Finally, I could no longer ignore that little voice and I ripped out the entire thing. Then I did what I should have done a long time ago. Instead of having big blocks of colors, I striped the sections, knitting two rows with one color and then switching to the other.
Much better, don't you think? It is still kind of random, but in a fun way. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

It's All About The Flowers

I've been pretty good about walking or biking five days a week -- one of my summer goals. Summer may have come late this year, but I find myself in a sea of flowers when I walk around my neighborhood. 

 Saturday evening my mom and I went to a birthday party at a friend's house. The hostess, my friend Debbie, is a gardener extrordinaire.
Thanks to the Internet, I stumbled on a way to do sun-dying with Dynaflow dyes by Jacquard. It's incredibly easy. You just slap down the dye, lay a stencil over the painted cloth, and let it dry in the sun. The results are amazing. I think this works on paper, too.

I finally broke down and bought this book. I've waited and waited for the public library to acquire it, but it doesn't look like they are going to.

I've been eyeing this spread at my local bookstore, and dreaming of embroidering these flowers onto clothing.
So, finally I've taken the plunge.
I traced the designs onto Sulky Super Solvy, which works like a sticker. You embroider over the lines, then soak off the Super Solvy. One caveat: I have found that if you leave the Solvy on for weeks and weeks, it is hard to get off. So, I'll get this done pretty quickly.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Thinking about UFOs

My husband was getting something from my Art Room last week, and he commented, "You sure have a lot of unfinished projects."

I, of course, immediately corrected him: "Those are UFOs." It took a few seconds, but he got it. Then I explained they were also WIPs.
I started this hat months ago, but then I got stuck on the decreases. I had failed to note how any stitches I cast on, so I had to recount and then decide how I wanted to do the decreases. Once I counted, it was easy. The lovely yarn is from Knit Circus.
I have never denied that I have a problem with casting on -- but I know I'm not the only one. There is a certain high that comes with casting on -- it reminds me of a sugar high. It feels so good at the time, even if it's the 101st WIP you have going. I have a similar relationship with chocolate.

This is my third pair of Kirsten Kapur's mitts, all knitted in Crazy Zauerball. I have to do one more to use up the rest of the skein. These are addictive, but I think it's time to move on.
While I admire people who can maintain knitting monogamy, I don't even aspire to it. I like the variety. I like giving into the urge to cast on something new and exciting. 

That's not to say that there aren't downsides to having so many WIPs. I do sometimes feel pressured to finish a batch before starting anything new. And it means I own too many needles -- you can't use needles that are in a WIP, after all. (Well, technically you can, but I'm not that organized.)

And I do finish things on a steady  basis. It took me about three days to knit the Hoopla Hat from PomPom.
And then I just had to cast on another Hoopla. I have two good excuses: First, I wanted to practice the Latvian Braid before I forgot how to do it. Second, it's a great stash-buster!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Lots of Beginnnings

 The best beginning was the one that began yesterday -- the beginning of summer vacation. I have plenty of work to do, but at least it's on my schedule. On my very first morning, I was able to join the Plein Air painting group at Donald County Park, where I painted an outcrop:
I think it needs a few finishing touches.

Later, I started in with some summer reading. I usually avoid popular fiction, but this has gotten so much publicity, I had to find out for myself if it's worth all the buzz.
If you've read it ... no spoilers, please.

I started a hat pattern, Hoopla, from PomPom magazine. I have a small collection of these beautiful magazines, but I haven't actually knit anything from them. Their patterns tend to be a bit complicated. 

This hat, for example, has a Latvian Braid, something I've always wanted to learn. I did learn in a class a few years ago, but I've forgotten everything from that. It turns out that You Tube has some pretty good tutorials.
Wah-Lah! I did it! The pattern is from this issue:
 And, I've found some time to hang around with one of my favorite girls:
Now, I just need some sunny weather for sun-dying cloth, and I'll be all set.


Monday, June 10, 2019

A Trend In Decline? Or Is It The Internet?

In the past, when I've gone to the Bead&Button show in Milwaukee, I had a sense of panic when I entered the market. So many booths! How could see them all? How could I figure out what to buy on my budget?
But it wasn't like that Saturday, when I went with a friend. We stepped into the marketplace, and there were about half as many stalls as there were a decade ago. I last went two years ago, and the decline in the number of stalls was drastic even from that time.

On the upside, it was a lot easier to see everything and figure out what to buy. But it was sad to see all that open space and to worry about the future of jewelry-making. I talked to a lot of the vendors, and they said the problem is all the online purchasing.
I don't understand that. I use the Internet when I must, but I really prefer to see the beads in person. You can't get the same sense for the colors and luster and size of the beads on the Internet. I like going to a store, where you can talk to the employees and the other shoppers. 

In general, I am not a fan of moving all of life online.  The type of blogging we do is, I think, an exception. We are a group who make friends. But in general, I think it's good for us to get out and interact with people.

Still, we had a good time. We took a break and walked to a Thai restaurant for dinner. On the way we saw some of Milwaukee's famed architecture:

And the shopping was still a lot of fun. We found plenty of great elements for jewelry making:

And our goodie-bags had a lot of mini-kits and useful tools.
We both took classes. Tsela did a class in layering with resin. I took a very cool class on beading a spiral bracelet. The good news is that I learned a skill I've been wanting: peyote spiraling. The bad news is that it is a very involved project and I didn't finish in the class:
And, changing topics completely, I have to thank Kat for identifying the bush in my last post. It is indeed a Weigela. When we downsize into a smaller house, I want to make sure there is enough sun for me to plant one of these!


Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Week From Today

...will be the first day of my summer vacation! I have so many ideas for projects flying around my brain. I need to write them down and then focus on actually finishing a few things.

I definitely want to improve my sewing skills this summer. I've been working on the Death Cat project. 
You may not remember it because it has languished for quite a while, but one of these days I'll have a finished quilt to show you.

Tonight I'm working on an annual tradition:
I bake cookies for the kids I proctor final exams for.  Most of my students don't get home baking, so they are very appreciative.

And Wisconsin is finally blooming:

Does anyone know what these are? I found them on a little after-work walk and was amazed by their beauty.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

On Not Being A Yarn Snob

Full disclosure: I totally am a yarn snob. I don't mind paying $28 for a skein of good sock yarn if I really love the yarn. I'm a bit wool-sensitive, so I'm a sucker for wool mixed with silk or cashmere.

But I do get seduced by less expensive yarns from time to time, and I have to admit that they can be nice to knit with and wear. This hat was a pleasure to make:


It's just a simple beanie with a bit of slouch that I made with Lion Brand Cupcake. I saw these sweet cakes at Joanne Fabrics, and I had to try one out. I like the hat, but I would have preferred more graduatl color changes.

And then there was another Lion Brand product that I saw at Joanne's. The spring colors captured my attention and I added a cake of  Comfy Cotton Blend  to my cart.
Cupcake is 100% acrylic, while Comfy Cotton is a blend of cotton and polyester. I don't think any fiber is more pleasant to knit with, more reliable, or more hard-wearing than wool. I love that you can play around with the blocking and that it has memory.

But I know I'm not the only wool-sensitive knitter out there. These two yards were pretty enough to grab my attention. I'd love to find a non-wool yarn that works for sweaters. I have high hopes for Comfy Cotton. In fact, I'm trying it out on Hitchhiker #3:
And I have to say that these Lion Brand non-wool yarns are very easy on the bank account.

I worry about cotton stretching out too much. If you've used a cotton or other non-wool yarn for a sweater and it worked out, let me know!